New York Daily News

Oct. 28, 2011


 

16 NYPD cops indicted in ticket-fixing scandal arraigned in Bronx; fellow police make show of support, fury at court

Hundreds of NYPD officers carried signs and shouted insults at prosecutors

BY BY HENRICK KAROLISZYN, ROCCO PARASCANDOLA AND LARRY MCSHANE
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    Patrick Lynch ran un-opposed for his seat as president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. Rob Bennet for News
 
Viorel Florescu
PBA delegate rallies crowd of supporters outside Bronx Supreme Court as cops are arraigned in ticket-fixing scandal.

Hundreds of furious city cops cheered wildly Friday as 15 accused criminals -- their NYPD brethren -- rolled out of a Bronx courtroom after getting arraigned in the massive ticket-fixing scandal.

"This is not a prosecution, it's a persecution," said Roy Richter, head of the Captains Endowment Association, surrounded by a seething sea of blue that spilled from the courthouse into the streets.

The first court appearances of the indicted officers drew a huge crowd of expletive-spewing cops who loudly backed their presumed-innocent colleagues while blasting the NYPD brass.

"Ray Kelly, hypocrite!" the contemptuous cops chanted, led by a heavyset union member at one of the largest outpourings of police disgust in decades.

"Innocent! Innocent!" rose another cry.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association head Pat Lynch said the massive grand jury investigation focused on rank-and-file cops -- and spared their bosses.

"There is white shirt immunity," Lynch told an appreciative audience that chanted "P-B-A! P-B-A!"

Lynch echoed the cries of many cops who claimed fixing tickets was as much a part of police work as walking a beat - or making an arrest.

"It's a courtesy, not a crime," read one scrawled sign as the air crackled with anger over the nearly three-year probe.

"Just following orders," read another.

Detective Randy Katakofsky, the Internal Affairs Bureau investigator who broke the case, was spotted across the street from the gaggle ofcops.

The outrage spread to several officers who skipped scheduled testimony Friday to protest the arraignments, sources told the Daily News.

"They can go f--- themselves," said one cop slated to testify this week. "Why the hell should we help [prosecutors]?"

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the PBA arguments were wrong-headed.

"Those actions are crimes under the law and can't be glossed over as 'courtesies' or as part of an acceptable culture," Klly said of the alleged ticket fixing. "They are not. Those who try to rationalize them as such are kidding themselves."

Asked if he'd ever fixed a ticket, Kelly replied, "No. And if I was approached, I'd say no."

The accused cops were hardly treated as criminals after turning themselves in overnight as a way of dodging the media and delays in fingerprint processing.

The 16 cops -- 11 were charged with fixing tickets -- were spared the public perp walk that usually accompanies high-profile cases. They were instead loaded by fellow cops into a black unmarked van for the trip from central booking to the courthouse.

All 16 were hit with official misconduct charges for a wide range of offenses, including destroying summonses, taking expensive gifts or cash, or forcing other cops to lie in court.

The cops rallying on behalf of the accused officers hurled insults at Bronx prosecutors Friday as they shared a tightly packed hallway outside the courtroom where the suspects appeared before Judge Steven Barrett.

"You piece of s---," snarled one cop at a Bronx prosecutor on his way to work.

"Cowards!" shouted another heckler.

The cops began assembling hours before the arraignments. Outside, one police union delegate waved a massive American flag amidst the chanting crowd of cops. "I'm here showing support for those who have been accused," said the Staten Island cop.

It was the largest police protest in the Bronx in nearly three decades, since an estimated 8,000 cops protested the indictment of an officer in the shooting death of Eleanor Bumpurs. The 66-year-old woman was killed with a shotgun blast when she lunged at an officer with a knife.

"This whole thing is a bunch of bulls---," said one cop, who declined to give his name. "They're crucifying us over nothing."

With Kevin Deutsch